Voting Problems

A joint legislative committee is hearing evidence to help lawmakers choose a winner in the unresolved election for state superintendent of public instruction.The ten-member panel is examining whether Democrat June Atkinson or Republican Bill Fletcher received the most legal votes in their race. It's the last statewide or federal post in the nation from the November 2004 ballot without a winner. Atkinson leads Fletcher by more than 85-hundred votes out of more than three million votes cast. Fletcher says thousands of provisional ballots should be thrown out. The committee will make a recommendation to the Legislature. All 170 lawmakers would then meet in joint session and pick a winner. Atkinson appears to have the advantage in a joint ballot because 92 of the legislators are Democrats. It's the first time since at least 1835 -- when citizens began electing a governor directly -- that lawmakers have determined a winner for a statewide office.